From Gideon Sackitey, GNA Special Correspondent Abuja, Nigeria
Abuja, May 17, GNA - Ghana and the African Development Bank (ADB) Group on Tuesday signed an agreement to open a Bank Country Office in Accra for the speedy and efficient facilitation of transactions between them.
The opening of the Country Office is part of an overall programme of decentralization adopted by the ADB to have field offices in all regional member countries.
Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, signed for Ghana on behalf of Nana Akufo Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs while Mr Omar Kabbaj signed for the ADB. The signing ceremony took place on the fringes of the on-going Annual meetings of the ADB Bank Group, which is being held back-to-back with the UNECA's Conference of Finance Ministers, Planning and Development in Abuja.
Mr Kabbaj after the signing commended the excellent relationship between Ghana and the Bank Group stressing that since 1973 it had disbursed loans totalling 960 million dollars with 43 million dollars of the amount going for technical assistance. He said the opening of the Ghana Country Office was significant as it formed part of his Administration's efforts of bringing the Bank Group's operations to the doorsteps of the people on the continent. This is under a broad programme of decentralization embarked on some few years ago.
The Country Office is one of 25 offices known as field offices to be opened throughout Africa by end of 2006.
"The Ghana Country Office would play a key role of ensuring a fast and reliable exchange of ideas and deliberations between it and the Bank itself. The objective is to improve quality of projects and programme implementation."
Mr Kabbaj promised the Bank's support to Ghana's programmes saying that it would strive for high quality in handling the country's portfolio.
The Bank Group is financing close to 70 operations in Ghana comprising projects, studies, lines of credit, institutional support and projects and policy-based loans.
Mr Baah-Wiredu welcomed the opening of the Country Office and said it reflected the increasing number of the Bank operations in Ghana. "As the Bank's operations in Ghana increase, it becomes very important to have a local office that handles the complex issues arising from mutual relations on the ground."
The Finance Minister said the government welcomed the decision to open an Office in Ghana as well as the increase in the size of the Bank's portfolio.
"We welcome it and are very gratified by the key role the Bank is playing in Ghana's development efforts."
He noted that the opening of the office "will once and for all halt the delays in processing contract awards and disbursements by implementing agencies and boost policy dialogue by Ghana and the ADB. In a separate development, Ghana and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa have also signed a 300,000-dollar feasibility study to be done on a railroad linking Tema and Akosombo. Mr Baah-Wiredu signed for Ghana while Mr Medhat S. Lofty, Director-General of BADEA, signed for his organization. The railroad will provide a vital linkage between the two towns and speed travel time of goods to the Tema Harbour.